I hate to start this blog on a sombre note, but stick with me, it’ll come good, I promise!
The negativity bias theory goes that humans have a propensity to focus on and remember negative experiences more easily. Some may claim they are “glass-half-full” types, but the counter-claim to anyone who says this is that there’s an evolutionary mechanism inside us all that means our minds hold onto the bad memories in order learn a lesson to try and avoid it happening again.
So, if we’re all happy to accept this slightly bleak notion, let’s now focus on how we can defy this human instinct. One simple way is to focus on the wins in life when they come around and celebrate them with as much gusto as you possibly can! The ACT Ones to Watch networking event is part of our effort to focus on the positives in the treasury and finance world. In these somewhat turbulent times, it’s good to take stock of the successes and recognise the talented individuals who can make the future in this sphere a bright one.
Following on from last year’s carnivalesque Ones to Watch celebration in the Barbican greenhouse, this year’s event took place in the slightly more conventional 30 Euston Square. But even the brilliant ACT Events team’s version of booking a conventional space still includes a spectacular rooftop area, featuring a live band, giant Jenga, BBQ and summer cocktails. With support once again from Thomson Reuters, the evening was an opportunity for ACT qualifications completers, previous winners of the One to Watch accolade and VIP guests to enjoy the entertainment, network with their peers and, most importantly, celebrate the achievement of the evening’s awards ceremony!
The Ones to Watch publication, in association with Brewer Morris, provides the basis for the event. 16 young, talented professionals are selected from the treasury and finance communities by the ACT as ones to look out for in their profession. Criteria to make the cut includes the abilities they’ve shown on their ACT treasury or cash management qualification, positive interactions and in-roads they’ve made in their own organisation with managers, senior colleagues and peers, plus any signs of that ‘X-Factor’.
From the final list of 16 talented individuals, four are chosen as the Ones to Watch Award winners on the night of the event. This year’s winners, Alison Lygo Senior Treasury Manager at ASOS, Claudia Villasis, Treasury Risk Manager at BHP, Duncan Holder, Deputy Group Treasurer at Imperial Brands and Peter Walker-Smith, Senior Manager-Global Treasury at Walgreens Boots Alliance, all demonstrate the diversity and mix of experience we have in this next generation of talent; this can only be a good thing and another reason for the profession to celebrate.
Presenting the awards on the night, Thomson Reuter’s Ritu Singh noted, “it’s always a great pleasure to celebrate success and as I read through the biographies and journeys to date of all 16 of the ones to watch, it shows us that the corporate treasury profession is in good and safe hands.” What’s significant about Ritu’s comment is that awards and achievement aren’t just for the recipients. Employers and all those who care about their line of work, want it to be brimming with talent and success stories.
Adam Wiltshire, Group Treasurer at National Grid (sponsors of the Certificate in Treasury qualification prize, also awarded during the evening), sees the significance of celebrating success: “from an employer’s perspective, it’s important to know about an employee’s achievements because we like to shout about it! It’s a good advertisement for the qualities of our team.”
Stopping to look around during the evening to assess the mood in the room, there was never a lull; the buzz in the room was overwhelmingly positive. Perhaps this was because I was invariably standing close to the bar or the foosball table, or perhaps it was because opportunities are relatively rare for professionals to get together in this way and network and catch up in such a relaxed atmosphere.
Winners of the awards, both the Ones to Watch and the qualifications prize winners (read the blog for the latter here) had a real glow about them, and, although we caught him in a good mood, Kiran Tailor, one of the 16 Ones to Watch, convinced me that he meant it when he told me, “the ACT are particularly proactive in promoting and celebrating their members’ and students’ success. The organisation seems to be more in touch with the real world, which is really valuable.” Flattery will get you everywhere, Kiran!
Again though, it’s important to look beyond the recipients of the awards. Although Joe Scattergood was the winner of the very prestigious ACT Student of the Year award, he sees the importance of what virtually everyone at the event held—an ACT qualification—and the need to promote this:
“In the UK, we are not very good at self-promotion—we are probably too modest, and we don’t like ‘big-heads!’ But not many people will do the promoting for us, so it’s up to us to do it ourselves. Self-promotion performed in a subtle way is a good way to gain gravitas.” He continues, “but it is more than just about kudos. Keeping up with CPD, continuous learning, attending events and belonging to a professional body are all required as part of being and staying on top of your game. A qualification is often just the start, required to open the right doors, and should be viewed as just a part of one’s professional development.”
Joe’s talk of the serious stuff provides a perfect segue for me to recall the start of this blog. The serious, the sombre, the downright negative things are always going to be there and always going to stick, unfortunately. That’s the just the way it is. But enjoy the wins in life when they come around—our winners below are deservedly doing so!
Picture (left to right): Wisdom Akakpo, ACT Bursary Student of the Year; Duncan Holder, One to Watch award winner; Alison Lygo, One to Watch award winner; Claudia Villasis, One to Watch award winner; Peter Goshawk, ACT President; Ritu Singh, Thomson Reuters; Peter Walker-Smith, One to Watch award winner; Joe Scattergood, ACT Student of the Year 2016; Heather Nisbet, Diploma in Treasury Management prizewinner; Dermot Hardy, ACT Mentor of the Year.